Outdoors: ATVs don’t hurt people; people hurt people

Shane Ullrich

As an outdoorsman, there are many tools and equipment that we use for many different purposes.

One of them may or may not be an ATV. The all-terrain vehicle has changed the way many of us access fishing holes or hunting spots. Some we use as workhorses to save our bodies for the other beatings we’ll take.

A bill that some are trying to force into law states that children 12 and younger are not allowed on ATVs and those between 12 and 16 are not allowed to ride anything above 90 CCs. This brings up many issues for me and many others.

First of all, this is a safety-driven issue. Have you seen the size of most 13-year-olds? How safe is it to put them on a machine that they are too large for?

The problem here truly is that somebody thinks we can idiot-proof the world. Common sense we know is not as common as we would like to think it is. We’ll end up an unintelligent society if we allow laws and rules to be forced on us to protect the moron.

How many families visit recreation spots and use ATVs on weekend getaways for the family unity it brings rather than leaving the kids at home so they can be bored and get into trouble? But of course, that’s a parenting issue. So is safety and ATVs.

It’s my job as a parent to teach my children about safety on ATVs, not our financially persuaded government.

The real unfortunate thing about this law is that so many people want to vote or sign onto an issue or law when they don’t even own ATVs or have kids that ride them. They don’t see the enjoyment or the positive and rewarding experience our kids get from it.

We continue to take away from them, and look how they are turning out. When kids get bored, they get into trouble.

Find something they enjoy and let them learn and be safe.

Many families in our area go out to different riding areas and come home untouched and unscathed, having lots of fun. Accidents do happen, but they happen everywhere not just with ATVs.

Every kid out there falls down on a bike at one point or another, so to protect them, let’s not have bikes.

That’s a broad sword though. Why punish everyone once again for the actions of a few?

ATVs don’t hurt people. People hurt people, so the best we can do is educate young riders and make them aware of the risks of riding.

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Steelhead counts over Willamette Falls have picked up over the last couple of weeks as river temperature has increased. The spring reservoir refill has begun and river flows below the dams will be varying with rainfall and snowmelt. A few fresh steelhead have been picked up in the Willamette near Salem and the lower reaches of the North and South Santiams.

Green Peter reservoir levels are coming up. Holdover trout and kokanee are available should be picked up relatively close to the surface since the water is so cold. Try a flasher and bait combination.

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Rainy and snowy weather has forced elk down to lower elevation agricultural fields and landowners are reporting increasing elk damage. Hunters with valid, unused controlled antlerless elk tags should consider contacting local farmers with pastures, hay and winter wheat fields. These are preferred elk foraging areas during the winter months and heavy elk activity can cause extensive damage to fields and crops. While all landowners may not allow hunting or trespass, a polite and courteous request may open up opportunities. Please respect landowner rights and ask for permission before hunting.

Hunters looking for a challenge and an opportunity to get out of the house and into the field should give predator hunting a try. Coyotes have paired up and have established their home territories, so hunters using a challenge howl or interrogation call will attract the most attention from these wary predators. Coyotes may take a little longer to respond at this time of year so stay on your stands a minimum of 30 minutes. Remember to ask permission from landowners before hunting.

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The reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons who illegally killed a bighorn sheep ram in the Long Gulch area of Malheur County in late January has increased to up to $9,250 with recent donations of $500 by the Lake County Chapter of the Oregon Hunters Association, $500 from the Redmond Chapter of OHA and $4,000 from the Oregon, Idaho and Washington chapters of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep and from its national headquarters. More contributions to the reward fund are expected.

The funds come from OHA’s Turn in Poachers (TIP) program, which provides rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of people who violate Oregon’s fish and wildlife laws, and from local OHA chapters.

Ten other OHA chapters of the Oregon Hunters Association have contributed a total of $4,000 towards the reward. Other chapters contributing to the bighorn sheep poaching incident reward include Pioneer, Umpqua, Klamath, Baker, Capitol, Columbia County, Josephine County, Hoodview, Mid-Columbia and Portland. Backcountry Hunters and Anglers have contributed $250 in award funds.

Four hunters discovered the headless body of an illegally killed California bighorn in the Long Gulch area east of Owyhee Reservoir sheep on Jan. 22. An investigation by the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division is ongoing.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact lead investigator Oregon State Police Trooper Robert Wilson at (541) 889-6469 ext. 771 or call the TIP hotline at 1-800-452-7888.

The Oregon Hunters Association is the state’s largest pro-hunting organization, with more than 10,000 members and 25 chapters statewide. Its mission is “to provide abundant huntable wildlife resources in Oregon for present and future generations, enhancement of wildlife habitat and protection of hunters rights.”

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Build Lebanon Trails (BLT) is offering a community nature walk on the proposed Burkhart Creek Trail, Saturday March 10th at 10 a.m. Rod Sell, City of Lebanon Maintenance Services Division Manager and BLT members will provide information about the development of the Burkhart Creek Trail and how it will play an intricate part of the overall BLT trail system.

Dr. Raylene Gordin will discuss prospects of enhancing bird habitat and trail environment.

The hike will begin at the gravel parking area of the Lebanon Fire District at 1050 West Oak Street in Lebanon. The trail walk is designated as moderate in difficulty as the terrain is uneven. Length of time to walk the trail is approximately 1-1⁄2 hours and will cover 1.5 miles. Bottled water will be available courtesy of Samaritan Health Systems. Leashed dogs are welcome on the walk.

For more information contact Nancy Kirks of Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) at (541) 451-6425 or Terry Deacon BLT Director at (541) 258-5049 or visit the BLT Web site at http://www.lebanontrails.com

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The Willamette and Deschutes National Forests have published a new Winter Recreation Map for the Santiam Pass area. The new map is printed on waterproof paper and provides updated information on ski, snowmobile and snow-shoeing trails, as well as other winter sports opportunities. Copies are available at local Forest Service offices for $7 each.